Have you ever managed a project where there have been no issues?  I know I haven’t.  Every project has risks, every project has issues and if you tell yourself anything else then you’re just denying the truth.  The key is to have a plan and processes in place to recognize, document, and respond to those issues and risks as your project progresses through its normal phases.

Good issue handling is just good business.  To stay on top of the issues that arise along the way on your project, I’ve found that it’s best to follow these four basic steps with your team and your customer as you jointly work to manage project issues:

Gather information about the issue

The key to issue management on the project is to actually track the issues on an ongoing basis. This must be done throughout the engagement and reviewed on a weekly basis.  I’m a firm believer that issue tracking and risk tracking are similar and should be documented together to make sure that both actually happen.

Create a good template – likely an Excel spreadsheet – and use it to document as much information about the issue as possible and leave room for determining courses of action and assignment that you’ll cover in the next steps.

Discuss the issue as a team

As issues arise, if possible, discuss them with your team before taking them to the customer. When presenting the customer with a problem or issue, it’s always best to also have a possible resolution determined.  It’s a great confidence builder for the customer. Understandably, that’s not always possible.The key is to not keep issues from the customer – make them part of that issue discussion so that they can help own the issue and resolution. After all, they may have caused it in the first place.

Determine the right action to take

Work with the customer and the project delivery team to determine the best course of action to take to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and for the best benefit of the project. This may require some cost-benefit analysis planning as well if there are multiple potential resolution actions that can be taken. Determining what is in the best interest of the project long term and what will have the least impact on the project budget and timeline as well is a critical part of this planning process.

Perform a post-action review

Defining the issue, discussing it with the team, and determining a course of action and then taking that action should not be the end of your concerns with that issue. When resolving issues – much like every other action that is taken on tasks on a project – not everything that is accomplished ends up yielding positive results.  It’s still critical to review the post-action results with your team and your customer to ensure that the issue has been resolved appropriately and in the best interest of both sides of the project teams.


Issue management and issue tracking are critical on every single project.  No project goes through its entire lifecycle without issues appearing – it just doesn’t happen.  Having a step-by-step process to follow – and then sticking to it – is necessary to keep issues in line and to keep your project moving forward toward a successful implementation.